Refugee

Former refugee boats give cruisers a tour of Amsterdam through the eyes of migrants

Photo Credits: UNHCR

Once upon a time, ‘Meneer Vrijdag’ and ‘Klein Boot’ were boats that were previously used to smuggle asylum seekers across the Mediterranean in search for a better life.

Now, the vessels are traversing much calmer waters: they’ve been taken in by Lampedusa Cruises, a tour company in Amsterdam that invites residents and tourists alike to take in the city’s history, much of which has been shaped by refugees and migrants.

The skippers, from countries including Eritrea, Libya and Syria, all have one thing in common – they themselves were refugees who came to Amsterdam on a boat not unlike the vessel they now sit at the helm of.

“Our guides tell you the hidden history of Amsterdam through the eyes of its immigrants and outsiders, including their personal migration story,” the company’s website reads.

The company takes its name from the island of Lampedusa, which is a symbol of Europe’s migrant crisis due to it being a popular destination for refugees sailing from Africa. What the cruises hope to do is to provide an alternative, less traditional insight into Amsterdam that isn’t necessarily what first comes to mind when one thinks about the city.

“The beauty of this project is that while Amsterdam is so shiny, we dive into some issues that aren’t so clean,” said Sahand, a tour guide. “Most tour companies talk about the Golden Age of the Netherlands and point out the old buildings. We talk about the immigrants who built them.”

Korean taekwondo masters teach refugee children compassion and discipline

Children at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan are learning the art of Taekwondo, thanks to a team of passionate Korean trainers who are teaching the sport as a means of instilling discipline and self-respect in kids who have faced trauma in their lifetime.

Charles Lee, who has lived in Jordan for over 10 years working as an acupuncturist, believes in the power of taekwondo in fostering the development of the refugee children, many of whom do not attend school or have any sort of mentor to guide them.

“I want to teach them to have more sportsmanship and to change how they think. I want them to be peaceful and to help their neighbors and communities,” -Lee, the founder of Zaatari Taekwondo Academy, told the Times of Israel.

The taekwondo program took off with the support of UN relief agencies. Lee also trained adult refugees, many of them sports coaches, so that they could run classes themselves and reach more children through the program.

According to Lee, the child refugees are often prone to violence, having grown up around it majority of their lives. Their favorite “game” to play is throwing stones at each other.

From the taekwondo classes, the trainers are seeing remarkable growth in the children.

“It has changed the character of the boys. They rely on themselves now, and the girls have stronger personalities,” - Mohammad Rashid, a physical education teacher, told AJ+.

“Taekwondo is what I like the most here,” said a Syrian girl. “Because I can defend myself, get to learn many things and care about my friends. I really like training a lot.”

Free app ‘Refugeye’ helps refugees break down language barriers and focus on getting the help they need

When refugees arrive in a host country, the language barrier make it difficult for them to articulate their circumstances to NGOs and social service groups. The process of getting the help they need is thus long and hard, coupled with the frustration that they aren’t being understood.

With this in mind, Design & Human created Refugeye, an app to facilitate better communication and understanding between refugees and the people of their host country.

The free app offers over 150 icons, each one unique and simple. General icons include the logo for UNHCR (United Nations High Commisioner for Refugees), a passport and a house. More specific ones, for example a figure holding out his wrists to another indicates arrest and a figure carrying a bindle to represents homelessness, can help refugees get their stories across precisely.

Users can also use the pen tool to draw on the icons themselves, their screen essentially becoming a canvas for them to illustrate what they would otherwise have a hard time trying to get across. Illustrations can be saved as images to be used in future.

Refugeye is indeed a simple and creative solution for refugees; with the app, they can focus on getting the help they need so they can settle down in their host country as quickly as possible instead of worrying about being misunderstood.